Federal: Tell President Trump To Abolish The Office Of The Drug Czar

Update: Tom Marino is no longer being considered for the position of Drug Czar.
The Trump Administration is widely expected to pick Representative Tom Marino for Drug Czar.

The Trump administration promised to eliminate bureaucratic waste. It should start by eliminating the office of the Drug Czar. 

The White House Drug Czar is required, by statute, “to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance that is listed in Schedule I” and to “ensure that no Federal funds … shall be expended for any study or contract relating to the legalization (for a medical use or any other use) of a substance listed in Schedule I.” This narrow-minded, Flat Earth mentality refuses to acknowledge the reality that the majority of the country is now authorized to engage in the use of medical cannabis and it mandates that US drug policy be dictated by rhetoric and ideology rather than by science and evidence.

NORML opposes Marino’s appointment to Drug Czar and we further call for this anti-science position to be abolished entirely.

The Drug Czar’s office is a remnant of a bygone era when US drug policy was framed as a ‘war’ fueled largely by rhetoric and ideology. In 2017 we can do better and we must. The majority of Americans view drug abuse as a public health issue, they favor regulating cannabis as opposed to criminalizing it, and they are demanding policy changes based on facts.

Tell President Trump: There is no place for ‘Czars’ in today’s American government, particularly those who still cling to the outdated and failed drug war policies and misplaced ideologies of the past.

House/Senate Fail to Reconcile Amendment 2 Implementation Measure

Update: House and Senate members failed to reconcile Amendment 2 implementation prior to the close of the 2017 legislative session. It will now be up to the Florida Department of Health to produce rules and regulations for the voter-initiated program. It is anticipated that the Department’s rules may be overly restrictive and will likely be challenged in court. Rules for the program must be in place by July.
Update: Senate members voted 31 to 7 in favor of a slightly amended version of the House bill. The measure now returns to the House for a confirmation vote. Backers of Amendment 2 have threatened to take legal action if the reconciled legislation keeps in place an existing ban on smoked cannabis.
Update: House members approved an amended version of HB 1397 by a vote of 105 to 9. As amended, the bill permits for edible formulations of cannabis and eases restrictions on vaporization. Patients would need to renew their physician’s recommendation every seven months as opposed to every 90 days. It also permits lawmakers to expand the number of state licensed dispensaries to 17 by July 1, 2018.
Update: The Florida House of Representatives further amended HB 1397 to be less restrictive and more in line with the Senate’s legislation. Final votes are expected this week
Update: Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee approved SB 406 on April 25.
Update: Members of the House Health & Human Services committee passed a committee substitute version of HB 1397 on April 24. The bill now awaits action from the full House. Efforts to reconcile the House bill with Senate Bill 406, a broader implementation bill, have so far not been successful.
Update: Members of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services passed SB 406 on April 18.
Update: Members of the House Appropriations Committee passed HB 1397 on April 18.
On November 8th, more than 71 percent of Florida voters decided in favor of the constitutional amendment, Amendment 2, to allow for the licensed production, use, and dispensing of medical cannabis to patients with a doctor’s recommendation. However, state politicians are contemplating legislative efforts to amend the law in a manner that violates both its spirit and intent.

For example, House Bill 1397 creates numerous unnecessary barriers for patients. It does not allow for edibles cannabis preparations and it outlaws the smoking of herbal cannabis. Vaporization is permitted but only for those who are diagnosed with a terminal illness. Rather, it mandates patients to use pills, tinctures, patches or suppositories — formulations that are arguably less effective than herbal cannabis. Physicians are also unduly restricted under this measure, as they can not recommend a patients’ medical use of cannabis for longer than a 45-day period, and it mandates a 90-day waiting period prior to issuing recommendations, even for terminal patients.

House Bill 1397 also keeps in place existing caps on the number of state-licensed growers and dispensers. These caps are arbitrary and will not enable providers to keep up with increasing demand.

A preferable legislative effort is Senate Bill 406. Unlike the dueling House measure, this proposal permits patients to access edible and herbal forms of cannabis, allows for patients to vaporize their medicine, allows out-of-state patients with valid medical cards to obtain medical marijuana, and does not exclude chronic pain patients from being eligible to obtain cannabis. It eliminates the 90-day waiting period for recommending physicians and also extends the time-table of doctors’ recommendations from 45 to 90 days. However, the Senate measure — like the House measure — initially caps the number of available providers and dispensers.

Although neither of these bills truly satisfies the true intent of Amendment 2, Florida NORML contends that Senate Bill 406 is preferable to the House bill. With amendments to both bills expected, we urge Floridians to support the Senate implementation bill and to continue to advocate for further amendments to expand patients’ access.

NORML of Florida, Central Florida NORML, Tallahassee NORML, NORML of Miami and Regulate Florida will be in Tallahassee April 18th and 19th to lobby for sensible implementation of Amendment 2.  House and Senate hearings regarding both bills are scheduled for April 18 and public testimony will be permitted.
Enter your information below to send a message to your lawmakers to protect Amendment 2 and implement a robust medical marijuana program in the Sunshine State. 

Hawaii: Medical Cannabis Expansion Bill Signed By Governor

Update: The Governor signed this legislation on June 22nd. 
Update: The Senate changes were approved by the House. HB 1488 now awaits the governor’s signature.
Legislation to expand Hawaii’s medical cannabis program has passed both legislative chambers.

The bill, HB 1488, has passed both the House and Senate. Senate changes to the bill must now be approved by members of the House before it can be sent to the Governor.

The bill expands the number of qualifying conditions eligible to receive cannabis therapy to include: lupus, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and autism. It also permits patients’ caregivers to engage in medical cannabis cultivation, among other changes. 

Full text of the measure is available here.

Indiana: Lawmakers Approve Dueling CBD Exemption Measures

Update: Governor Holcolm signed HR 1148 into law on 4/26.
Update: Governor Erin Holcolm has stated publicly that he will sign HB 1148 into law.
Update: House Bill 1148 awaits action from the Governor. The finalized version of the bill establishes a patient registry permitting those with a physician’s diagnosis of intractable epilepsy to possess CBD formulations that possess at least five percent cannabidiol and no more than three-tenths percent THC. 
House and Senate lawmakers have approved separate versions of legislation (House Bill 1148 and Senate Bill 15) to exempt criminal penalties for the possession of CBD extracts by qualified patients.

Both bills seek to exempt penalties for the use of CBD extracts by patients with treatment resistant epilepsy. The bills differ regarding whether or not the state ought to establish a patient registry and with regard to the percentage of CBD that must be present in order for the substance to qualify as exempt under state law.

Lawmakers rejected similar proposals in previous legislative sessions.

If enacted into law, 46 states will allow either the use of marijuana, cannabis-infused products, or CBD products.

Georgia: Legislation To Expand CBD Medical Program Becomes Law

Update: Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law Tuesday a measure that expands the state’s medical marijuana program.
Update: SB 16 has passed both legislative chambers and now awaits the signature or veto of Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. Should he fail to take action regarding the bill, SB 16 will become law absent his signature.
SB 16, a bill to expand Georgia’s CBD-exemption law is awaiting action from Gov. Nathan Deal.
The bill expands the qualifying pool of patients eligible to possess CBD extracts to include those with autism, epidermolysis bullosa, AIDS, Tourette’s Syndrome, severe peripheral neuropathy, or who are in hospice care. The law also exempts qualified patients registered to use CBD in other states. 
The measure does not provide a regulated, in state supply source where patients may legally obtain CBD-oil formulations.

Federal: House Bill Introduced to Expand Veterans’ Access to Medical Marijuana

Update: HR 1820 has been referred to committee.
Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), along with five co-sponsors, has reintroduced H.R. 1820, the Veterans Equal Access Act, which expands medical cannabis access to eligible military veterans.

Presently, V.A. doctors are forbidden from providing the paperwork necessary to complete a recommendation, thus forcing military veterans to seek the advice of a private, out-of-network physician. Passage of H.R. 1820 lifts this prohibition.

Last year, majorities in both the US House and Senate voted to include similar language as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. However, Republicans sitting on the House Appropriations Committee elected to remove the language from the bill during a concurrence vote. Lawmakers must stop playing politics with veterans’ health and pass H.R. 1820.

Veterans are increasingly turning to medical cannabis as an effective alternative to opioids and other conventional medications. A retrospective review of patients’ symptoms published in 2014 in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs reported a greater than 75 percent reduction CAPS (Clinician Administered Posttraumatic Scale) symptom scores following cannabis therapy.

Our veterans deserve the option to legally access a botanical product that is objectively safer than the litany of pharmaceutical drugs it could replace.

Enter your information below to urge your lawmakers to support H.R. 1820, the Veterans Equal Access Act.

Federal: End Arbitrary License Suspensions For Minor Marijuana Possession

Update: HR 1952 was referred to committee.
Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) with Representatives Amash (R-MI), Jeffries (D-NY), Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Nadler (D-NY), and Love (R-UT) have introduced HR 1952, The Better Drive Act, legislation removing the federal mandate that demands states to suspend the driver’s license of individuals with a marijuana possession conviction.

Under current law, any drug conviction, regardless of whether or not a motor vehicle was involved, results in an automatic suspension of the individual’s driving privileges for a period of six months. To date, 38 states have opted out of this mandate. Yet twelve states, home to more than 122 million residents – including Texas, New York, Michigan and Florida — have not done so. Nearly 200,000 driver licenses are still suspended each year for these non-driving offenses. According to the AAMVA, nearly 4 out of every 10 suspended drivers who lost their license following a conviction for a drug or other type of offense were suspended for non-highway safety reasons.

Enacted over 25 years ago as a part of the so-called “war on drugs,” this mandate imposed on states does not improve highway safety or help people address substance use. Rather, it has the opposite effect, as this mandate ends up costing minor offenders their ability to get to work and to school, and causes other undue economic hardships.

This repeal of the federal mandate would have no impact on states ability to suspend licenses for drug offenses or enforce impaired driving statutes.

Minor marijuana possession offenders ought not to face the undue burden of the loss of one’s driving privileges for activities unrelated to driving. This punishment is disproportionate and unrelated to the offense and it needlessly hinders defendant’s ability to rehabilitate and to be a successful member of our community.  

Enter your information below to contact your member of Congress and urge them to support this legislation. 

Federal: End The Federal Government’s Enforcement of Marijuana Prohibition

Update: All 3 bills have been referred to committee in their respective chamber.
Senator Ron Wyden and Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Jared Polis have introduced legislation in the House and Senate — The Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act / Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act  — (SB 776 and HB 1841 / HB 1823) to permit states to establish their own marijuana regulatory policies free from federal interference. In addition to removing marijuana from the United States Controlled Substances Act, this legislation also removes enforcement power from the US Drug Enforcement Administration in matter concerning marijuana possession, production, and sales — thus permitting state governments to regulate these activities as they see fit. An additional excise tax would be levied on the sale of marijuana.  

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for qualified patients, while eight states now regulate the production and sale of marijuana to all adults. An estimated 63 million Americans now reside in jurisdictions where anyone over the age of 21 may possess cannabis legally. Voters support these policy changes. According to a 2017 Quinnipiac University poll, 59 percent of Americans support full marijuana legalization and 71 percent believe that states, not the federal government, should set marijuana policy. 

These statewide regulatory schemes are operating largely as voters and politicians intended. The enactment of these policies have not negatively impacted workplace safety, crime rates, traffic safety, or youth use patterns. They have stimulated economic development and tax revenue. Specifically, a 2017 report estimates that 123,000 Americans are now working full-time in the cannabis industry. Tax revenues from states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington now exceed initial projections. Further, numerous studies have identified an association between cannabis access and lower rates of opioid use, abuse, hospitalizations, and mortality.

The ongoing enforcement of cannabis prohibition financially burdens taxpayers, encroaches upon civil liberties, engenders disrespect for the law, impedes legitimate scientific research into the plant’s medicinal properties, and disproportionately impacts communities of color.

By contrast, regulating the adult use of marijuana stimulates economic growth, saves lives, and has the support of the majority of the majority of Americans. 

Enter your information below to send a message to your members of Congress to support this effort. 

Federal: Legislation Pending To Cease Penalizing State-Compliant Marijuana Businesses Under the Federal Tax Code

Update: SB 777 and HB 1810 have both been referred to committee in the Senate and House, respectively.
The Small Business Tax Equity Act (SB 777 and HB 1810) is pending in the House and Senate to amend the federal tax code so that state-licensed, marijuana-related businesses are no longer unduly penalized by federal laws. NORML supports these legislative efforts.

These measures amend Section 280E of the Federal Income Tax Code so that state-compliant marijuana operators for the first time can take business deductions for standard expenses such as rent and employee compensation and benefits — just like other legally licensed business entities.

According to a 2017 report, over 120,000 workers are now employed full time in the legal cannabis industry. Allowing deductions for rent and employee costs would help these businesses grow economically and would provide incentives for hiring additional employees.

The marijuana industry is an economic generator for America. Businesses in this space should be regulated by the federal tax code in a manner that is fair, that will help stimulate economic growth, and that allows the marijuana industry and those who operate in it to avoid unjustified tax penalties.
Enter your information below to email your elected officials to support this effort.  

Colorado: Bill To Thwart The Federal Government Signed By Governor

Update: SB 192 was signed into law June 2. 
Update: S. 192 passed the Senate on May 9 and was transmitted to Governor Hickenlooper on May 18. The bill now awaits his signature or veto.
Update: House members approved SB 192 on May 3 by a vote of 58 to 5. Because of House amendments, the bill returns to the Senate, which must either re-approve the measure or seek reconciliation.
Update: Members of the House Finance Committee have referred SB 192 to the Appropriations Committee.
Update: SB 192 passed the Senate on April 12 and now awaits action from the House.
Update: The bill passed 4-1 committee in the Republican Senate

State officials in Colorado are considering legislation, SB 192, to protect the state’s adult use marijuana industry in case of a potential federal crackdown. 

The bill would permit adult use growers and sellers to instantly reclassify their recreational marijuana inventory as medical marijuana “based on a business need due to a change in local, state, or federal law or enforcement policy.” In recent weeks, officials from the Trump administration have indicated that they may consider taking action against recreational marijuana providers, but that they will not likely move against state-licensed medical marijuana providers.
You can contact your local officials in support of SB 192 by using the pre-written letter below.

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